“I also want to have Casio keyboards on sail boats. Have you ever been on a sail boat? It’s so quiet, all you hear is wind and sea.” – Arthur Russell, interviewed in Melody Maker, 1987
Following our textile tribute to Sade, 032c dedicates its latest fan shirt to musician, romantic, and legendary weirdo Arthur Russell. “That’s Us / Wild Combination,” the song emblazoned on the shirt, is an all-time 032c Workshop favorite during both work and party hours. The song comprises the entirety of Russell's appeal: it is light, groovy, longing, and just the starting point for our limitless devotion.
Arthur Russell was born in Iowa. When he was 18, he moved to a Buddhist commune in San Francisco before moving on to New York, where he immersed himself in the disco scene—Studio 54, Paradise Garage, The Loft, and other institutions with eternal sparkle. He collaborated with downtown luminaries like David Byrne and Phillip Glass, as well as DJ D’Aquisto, with whom he did the dance project Loose Joints. “[It] allowed shy Arthur to come out of his shell in the gayest sense,” remembers Loose Joints member Steven Hall. Nicky Siano, one of Studio 54’s resident DJs described him as “strange…outrageous, weird…he was definitely a ‘white-boy’ dancer.” Given Russell’s slightly off, majorly compelling grooves, this comes as no surprise.
When he died of AIDS in 1992, he did so in obscurity. With this shirt, 032c commemorates an anti-icon. Arthur Russell was unsung part of one of the most exciting and lastingly influential periods of New York’s nightlife – one that explored sound and sexuality freely, earnestly, and totally fabulously. His story resonates with those of his peers, he was never granted the acclaim that his tender dance and folk music deserved.